Will there be another Wilson? Not for a while, certainly. There’s too much to master and too many electronic distractions. Reading Greek and Latin for pleasure is practically unheard of now. The very ideal of cultural authority is, rightly or wrongly, suspect. Most important, the freelance life is less and less possible in an economically rationalized, hypermanagerial society. Investors want 20 percent returns; we know what that means for literary journalism. Tenure committees are not impressed by “comprehensive and solitary,” idiosyncratic scholarship of Wilson’s sort. And where can a freelancer live? Even Hackensack will soon be gentrified. On the web? Yes, but one wants, if not to be at the center of things, at least to know where it is. Or that it is.
Oh well, let’s hope that, even in a decentered world, Wilson’s temperament and critical method–curious, energetic, humane and, of course, very intelligent–will keep their appeal.
more from The Nation here.